49 per cent players willing to opt out of national contracts for T20 leagues: FICA Report

The anticipation of franchise leagues taking precedence over international cricket seems closer to reality than ever before.

Published: 29th November 2022 10:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th November 2022 10:46 PM   |  A+A-

IPL GALA! The way IPL will evolve over the next few years is going to be the central point around which the transition of cricket unfolds.

Express News Service

CHENNAI: In sports, teams go through transition all the time. But it is not often a sport itself goes through such a transitional phase. Cricket is at such a place now. While franchise-leagues dominating world cricket is not a new theory and has been anticipated for quite a few years, it seems like we are closer to the prediction becoming reality than ever. 

Between now and till the end of May, as many as five domestic T20 leagues are set to take place in prominent countries — Lankan Premier League, Big Bash League, SA T20, International League T20, Pakistan Super League and the Indian Premier League — with The Hundred and Caribbean Premier League to follow. And the success of some of these tournaments over the next couple of years could very well be the endgame. The Federation of International Cricketers’ Association’s (FICA) report indicates the same.  

According to the report, as many as 49 per cent of male cricketers say that they would consider rejecting a national contract for a bigger domestic contract. While the likes of Trent Boult and Martin Guptill have recently asked out of the contract with New Zealand Cricket, that close to half the athletes willing to do the same feels like the tip of the iceberg. That the international schedule is getting skewed with every FTP could have a significant role to play in it as well. 

And it does not come as a surprise. Freelancing could be the future for many cricketers, especially for those who don’t represent a financially wealthy cricketing body. As many as 82 per cent of the current players are not in the traditional market with just contracts at home — 42 per cent are hybrid (home and overseas) and 40 per cent are in the free agency market (with no contracts at home). For example, Singapore’s Tim David, who now plays for Australia, has taken part in as many as seven overseas leagues in a year. Afghan trio — Mohammed Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman — play in six. New Zealand’s Glenn Phillips played as many as 59 domestic league matches in 2021 alone.

That said, the interesting statistic as per the report is this. Despite the 49 per cent willing to forgo national contracts, 80 per cent seem to favour contract security over playing in different competitions. And it seems like this stems from the lack of say they have in their rights as a player. There are concerns over late and non-payment from the leagues as well. 54 per cent of the players feel insecure or very insecure about their cricket employment and 46 per cent say their relationship with the board is poor or very poor. 44 per cent believe they do not have a clear voice in the future direction of the game.

This brings the focus on the rights and employment concerns of the players with the governing bodies. 13 per cent say they have been made to feel uncomfortable by their respective boards for being a member of a players’ association. And this is at a time when many cricketing bodies do not have an actively participating players’ association.

In India, while the domestic pay of players has gone up, they seem to have fared negatively when it comes to domestic contracts, role of players' association in negotiating the contracts and player welfare development programmes in players' welfare assessment. However, with BCCI being the richest and most powerful cricketing body, the way IPL will evolve over the next few years is going to be the central point around which the transition of cricket unfolds.

As New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said recently ahead of a bilateral series, which was scheduled to be played after a high-octane T20 World Cup, it is a moving landscape. And it's going to be important to learn and understand how it looks over the next few years.


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